Smith & Nephew, Proterro, Aldi: Intellectual Property

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court left intact an $85 million patent-infringement verdict won by Smith & Nephew Plc in a fight with Arthrex Inc. over anchoring devices used in shoulder surgery.

The justices, without comment, refused yesterday to hear an appeal by Arthrex, a company based in Naples, Florida. The dispute involved devices that are anchored to a bone to repair tears in the rotator cuff or labrum.

London-based Smith & Nephew sued Arthrex in 2004 and won a jury verdict in 2011, only to have a trial judge set the award aside. A federal appeals court then reinstated the verdict, setting up Arthrex’s Supreme Court appeal.

The case is Arthrex v. Smith & Nephew, 13-290.

Cambia, QUT Develop Free Public Database of Gene Sequences

Cambia, a non-governmental organization aimed at the democratization of science-related innovation, has developed a free and open public database of gene sequences, according to Australia’s Science Alert news website.

Canberra, Australia-based Cambia, which is funded by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Lemelson Foundation and Australia’s Queensland University of Technology, created the PatSeq database that already holds more than 120 million DNA sequences and 10 million protein sequences drawn from patent documents, Science Alert reported.

Researchers from Cambia and Queensland University of Technology said in a paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology that they reviewed claims of more than two thousand U.S. patents and found the majority didn’t actually claim the gene sequence itself, but rather its use for particular purposes, according to Science Alert.

Osmat Jefferson, a professor at the university and the paper’s principal author, said that many patent offices lack the means to track the gene sequences disclosed in patents, according to Science Alert.

E.Digital Files 39 New Patent Suits Related to Flash Memory

E.Digital Corp., founded by inventor Elwood Norris, filed 39 new patent-infringement lawsuits in federal court in San Diego.

All of the suits claim E.Digital’s patent 5,839,108 is infringed. The patent, issued in November 1998, relates to the use of flash-memory technology.

Among the defendants are Seagate Technology LLC, Mach Extreme Technology Inc., Intel Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Verifone Holdings Inc.

In April, E.Digital sued Apple Inc., Huawei Technologies Co., Verizon Communications Inc. and two retailers -- Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. E.Digital produces portable in-flight entertainment systems.

The new cases include E.Digital Corp. v. Seagate Technology LLC, 13-cv-02946, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

Proterro Patents Biosynthetic Production of Fermentable Sugar

Proterro Inc., a producer of sugar-based animal feedstock, received a U.S. patent covering the production of sugar using transgenic sugar-producing organisms.

Patent 8,597,914 also covers a photobioreactor for cultivating photosynthetic microorganisms to create a non-gelatinous solid that provides nutrients and moisture to the transgenic organisms, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The process avoids the use of biomass derived from corn, sugarcane, soybeans, canola and jatropha seeds, all of which require extensive energy-intensive pre-processing to produce fermentable sugar. According to the patent, production of these plants can lead to soil depletion, erosion and diversion of the food supply.

Proterro, based in Ewing, New Jersey, filed the application for this patent in January with assistance from Chicago’s Dentons US LLP.

For more patent news, click here.


Australia Post Loses Trademark Dispute With Delivery Service

Australia Post, the government-owned postal service, lost a trademark battle with Digital Post Australia, a joint venture between Computershare Ltd. and Zumbox Inc., ZD Net reported.

The Australian postal service’s use of “Australia Post Digital Mailbox” for its online mailbox came a week after Digital Post Australia began offering similar services, according to ZD Net.

Australia’s Federal Court on Dec. 6 dismissed the postal service’s appeal of its earlier ruling refusing to order Digital Post Australia to stop using its name, ZD Net reported.

The Australian postal service said it was disappointed in the ruling and warned that consumers could easily be confused by the name similarities, according to ZD Net.

Aldi Sues Dunnes Stores in Irish Court, Says Trademarks Infringe

Aldi Einkauf GmbH, the German discount retail chain, filed a trademark lawsuit in Ireland’s Commercial Court accusing Dunnes Stores of trademark infringement, the Irish Times reported.

The alleged infringement is related to advertisements and banners Dunnes uses that the German company claims mislead the public into assuming falsely that its products are cheaper than similar ones under the Aldi label, according to the newspaper.

Both parties have stipulated that the dispute be handled on a fast-track basis, according to the Irish Times.

Counsel for Aldi said it received “the brush off” when it contacted Dunnes to complain about the alleged infringement, the newspaper reported.

Self-Storage Sites Targeted in Action Against Counterfeiting

Two self-storage sites in metropolitan New York face potential nuisance lawsuits as part of a multi-agency task force action against groups that allegedly operated out of the facilities, the Inside Self-Storage website reported.

Although the facilities aren’t suspects in the case, New York City authorities chose the nuisance-abatement suit to hold them partly responsible for illegal activity taking place on their premises, according to Inside Self-Storage.

Fake merchandise law enforcement officials said was found at the sites included watches, headphones, cigarettes and apparel by Nike Inc., Ralph Lauren Corp., Timberland Co., True Religion Apparel Inc. and VF Corp.’s North Face unit, the news website reported.

Earlier this year, a similar nuisance-abatement suit against a self-storage site settled, with the site operator agreeing to adopt more stringent rules in rental agreements, including a provision granting the operator access to all units without prior notice, according to Inside Self-Storage News.

For more trademark news, click here.


Musical Society of Nigeria Must Face Charges, Court Says

Nigeria’s High Court ruled that criminal charges against the Musical Society of Nigeria can go ahead, Nigeria’s This Day Live news website reported.

The charges stem from the musical society’s alleged attempts to collect royalties and solicit and grant licenses on behalf of copyright owners without authorization from the Nigerian Copyright Commission, according to This Day Live.

Justice Ibrahim Buba said for the court that the musical society challenge to the allegations was “misconceived,” This Day Live reported.

The music society’s actions allegedly violated sections of the Nigerian Copyright Act relating to the collection of royalties, according to the news website.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Wikipedia-Copying Professor Troubles Trade Secrets Trial Judge

A federal judge in San Francisco ordered a hearing on whether to allow a university professor to testify as a U.S. government witness in a criminal trade secrets case, saying he’s troubled that the China expert appears to have copied much of a report he submitted to the court from Wikipedia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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